Nov. 9, 2006

Grey Hautaluoma
Headquarters, Washington

James Hartsfield
Johnson Space Center, Houston


The International Space Station crewmembers spent this week getting
ready for an upcoming spacewalk, performing scientific research and
voting in the U.S. elections back on Earth.

Throughout the week the crew prepared the Pirs docking compartment for
the Nov. 22 spacewalk by Expedition 14 Commander Michael
Lopez-Alegria and Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin. The astronauts
gathered tools and equipment they will use on the nearly six-hour

Lopez-Alegria and Tyurin next week will prepare the Russian Orlan
spacesuits they will wear for the excursion. During the spacewalk
they will relocate a communications antenna, install new experiment
hardware and photograph a Kurs rendezvous system antenna on the
Progress supply ship that docked last month to the Zvezda module’s
aft docking port. Tyurin also will conduct a Russian commercial
demonstration by hitting a golf ball teed up on the exterior of Pirs.

A top priority for Flight Engineer Thomas Reiter this week was packing
material destined to return to Earth on the Space Shuttle Discovery
in December. Lopez-Alegria completed a routine checkout of the Mobile
Servicing System that moves the station’s robotic arm up and down the
truss, in support of that shuttle assembly flight.

On mission STS-116, targeted to launch Dec. 7, the shuttle crew will
deliver another component of the station’s girder-like truss
structure and perform spacewalks to rewire the station’s electrical
system. The shuttle crew includes astronaut Suni Williams, who will
relieve Reiter on board. Reiter will have spent six months on the

Lopez-Alegria, the NASA International Space Station Science Officer
for Expedition 14, collected his third set of blood and urine samples
for the Nutritional Status Assessment experiment. This experiment
measures physiological indicators of the changes in the human body
during spaceflight.

The samples are stored in the Minus-Eighty Degree Laboratory Freezer
aboard the station. Once returned to Earth the blood and urine
samples will be analyzed to understand a wide variety of bodily
systems, including hormonal changes and how they relate to stress,
bone and muscle metabolism. Scientists will also look at markers to
measure bone metabolism, oxidative damage, and vitamin and mineral

These findings are expected to give researchers a better understanding
of what happens to crewmembers in space and when it happens. It also
will help to define nutritional requirements and develop food systems
for future missions to the moon and Mars.

Working hundreds of miles away from home didn’t stop Lopez-Alegria
from participating in this week’s general election. Texas law permits
residents who happen to be in orbit on Election Day to cast a ballot
from space. This was first done by David Wolf from the Mir space
station in 1997. Lopez-Alegria made his choices on an encrypted
computer ballot that was downlinked to Mission Control and forwarded
to the county clerk’s office in Houston for tabulation.

The next station status report will be issued Nov. 17, or earlier if
events warrant. For more about the crew’s activities and station
sighting opportunities: